Tuesday 15th April posted Saturday 19th as we watch the Devizes to Westminster Canoe race.
On to All Cannings. After a stroll into Devizes for some bread we pottered along gently to moor at All Cannings for lunch. There were a few canoeists at the Wharf and we spotted this notice -
Interesting because this year’s race starts next Friday morning and the competitors should be passing us on their way to Newbury. There were quite a few boats out today – several hire boats from Hilperton and Bath making their way back to Caen Hill and private boats too. We saw a kingfisher, our first ducklings (13 little bumblebees) and some tiny moorhen chicks.
There was a space on the 48-hour moorings at All Cannings so we moored there for lunch. It was such a peaceful spot we decided to stay put. We needed some milk so we took the long way to All Cannings village – via Honeystreet. We walked along the towpath, past the pub and the boatyard, to find the memorial to the airmen who died in the wartime plane crash at Alton Barnes. You get to the memorial from a stile opposite the winding hole into the field. It’s a bit covered in lichen but very poignant.
There was a training airfield here though we couldn’t see where it had been. I found a blog online where the writer was visiting, investigating and photographing all the pillboxes and other artefacts from the war, and he described ‘anti-tank cylinders’ at bridges – this is what I think he was talking about;
It is bridge 123, close to the memorial, with what looks like a pillbox on the far side.
We walked back to the pub at Honeystreet for a refuelling stop and to check out the crop circle pictures;
After a couple of refreshing pints of ‘Croppie’ in the garden we set off again and took the path to All Cannings along tracks and lanes. It wasn’t well signposted but we made it ok through bright fields of oilseed rape, winter wheat with larks singing above, and past a pig farm – a huge barn with artificial light inside and a lot of squealing. It sounded grim and we hoped they were just being fed, but we’ll stick to free range outdoor pork thank you. We stopped in the little shop for milk and made it back to Chuffed at about 6. I had meant to wash the cratch cover today but that’ll have to wait.
6 miles, 2 swing bridges.
Wednesday 16th April
We made up for a lazy day yesterday with a longer day today. It was pretty cold as we set off – it was quite cloudy to start with and the wind was freezing, so it was out with the fleeces again. We paused at Gibson’s for diesel – all their hireboats were out – and on we went. We had much better views of the White Horse than on our trip last summer – I took this picture yesterday from the towpath.
The sun was shining on Pickled Hill at the perfect angle to show the terrace remnants of Celtic and mediaeval cultivation.
At Wilcot we passed under the miniature suspension bridge. It is the only one left of its type according to Nicholsons’s. The sun was out again by now but there is a long stretch of woodland casting deep shadow past here so it was back on with the fleeces.
We stopped at Wootton Rivers for lunch, then up the locks to the tunnel, which was clear and dry. We descended the locks to Crofton in warm sunshine with only a couple of problems. The first was we had to turn all the locks, as the bottom paddles have to be left up and the gates had usually blown open too. The second was that Meg took her second dip into the canal. The first was at Devizes, where she got distracted as she trotted along the edging of the moorings and missed her footing; the second was at the first of the Crofton locks, though thankfully I hadn’t started to open any paddles. Still a bit of a panic, though she didn’t seem to be worried in the slightest. We think she was trying to get a drink. Anyway, on went the lead for the rest of the way down, and I tied her up to the metal handrail on the lock beam to keep her away from the edge.
We stopped towards the lower end of the Crofton moorings, and after a cup of tea walked up to Wilton village with the dog. It is an inordinately pretty village, with a duckpond -
a windmill – the picture is zoomed and cropped, as it was a long way up the hill and we were thirsty!
and a lovely dog-friendly pub serving beer straight from the barrel. We didn’t stay to eat, though it looked good – Meg is doing well, but still learning how to behave in pubs.
10 locks today, 12 and a half miles.